Saturday, 17 January 2015

What Should My Next Helmet Be?

I've been going on about helmets lately and I think that’s because I know I need to buy a new one this spring. It’s a Canadian tradition to mull over decisions for summer on cold winter nights. My father always picked the seeds for his garden in January and February. So deciding on a helmet and imagining riding with it in warmer months seems appropriate.

My old helmet still looks okay.

And because it doesn't appear to be defective, I've been slow in replacing it. When I took a motorcycle training course more than ten years ago, the instructor said helmets should be replaced every seven years even if they hadn't been dropped because the foam inside them disintegrates. I bought my helmet about the same time as that course and I have to admit it’s had a few falls around the house. In online discussions there's still a perception that helmets are good until the first accident, but a site called Motorcycle Basics, says helmets only have a lifespan of five years. Most manufacturers use that figure too although some sites suggest that newer model helmets, if cared for, can last longer.

I don’t need to be convinced that it’s essential to have a good helmet:

“Our role is to identify ways to prevent injury and death
and rigorously check what works and what does not work.
For motorcycle safety, the research shows that universal
helmet laws are the most effective way to reduce the
number of deaths and traumatic brain injuries that
result from crashes.” Dr. Thomas Frieden, Directer CDC.

That's from a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on motorcycle safety, The report goes on to say that helmets reduce the risk of death by 37 per cent and head injuries by 69 per cent and that universal helmet laws are much more effective than partial helmet laws which only require certain groups to wear helmets. They site Florida as an example of why partial laws don't work. The state repealed its universal law in 2000, changing to a law that said only those under 21 years old or those with less than $10,00 had to wear helmets. In the thirty months after the law changed, compared to the 30 months before, deaths of all riders increased by 55 per cent. Even those under 21 died more often - a startling increase of 188 per cent - I'm guessing because they thought they could get away without wearing helmets.

The sports world is slowly coming to terms with just how much damage brain injuries can do as players age. Trying to avoid severe trauma to the head just makes sense. And just in case you don't believe me, read the long and scary list of the effects of brain trauma from the Mayo Clinic.

So, yes, I want an effective helmet. I’m just confused about what kind of helmet I should buy for the type of scooter riding I do.

The full helmet is still considered safest for any scooter riders who commute on their it’s a good idea for city riders. I have a full helmet because I started out on a motorcycle and just kept it when I switched to a scooter. I don’t ride in a big city anymore so I’m not sure I need that full protection anymore. However, I do ride on secondary highways where speeds are greater than on city streets so maybe I do. Arg! Good thing there are still lots of winter nights to make a decision.

1 comment:

  1. I like the colour of the old helmet; maybe you could get a red one next. Good for visibility.